STDs Stay On the Rise in Washington


The Washington State Department of Health recently released their statewide report on sexually transmitted diseases for 2017 and the results are not pretty. 

Chlamydia was the most commonly reported STD, with rates highest in women 20-24 years old. However, statistics indicate that overall STD rates are highest among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Other STDs covered in the study include gonorrhea, herpes, and syphilis.

In Lewis County in 2017 there were 284 cases of chlamydia with a rate of 366.7 cases per 100,000 people. There were 40 cases of gonorrhea and nine reported cases of herpes in addition to five cases of syphilis. By comparison, Lewis County had a rate of 327.7 cases of chlamydia per 100,000 in 2016. That year there were no reported cases of syphilis.

In Thurston County in 2017 there were 1,139 cases of chlamydia, for a rate of 411.3 cases per 100,000 people. There were 253 cases of gonorrhea, eight cases of syphilis and 72 cases of herpes. Those rates were all slightly lower than 2016, other than syphilis which had only six reported cases that year.

All told in 2017 there were 32,454 reported cases of chlamydia, 10,022 cases of gonorrhea, 674 cases of syphilis and 2,058 cases of herpes in Washington. Compartievely, in 2016 there were 31,193 cases of chlamydia, 8,165 cases gonorrhea, 566 cases of syphilis and 2,548 cases of herpes.

Due to the overall rise of STD cases, officials at the Washington State Department of Health are urging sexually active people to get tested and treated for STDs at least once per year. Untreated STDs can cause serious health problems. Pregnant women suffer some of the worst outcomes of untreated STDs. Additionally, congenital syphilis is a problem that is spreading in Washington. Between 2016 and 2017 there were as many cases of congenital syphilis as in the previous 10 years.

Health officials say that consistent and correct condom use is the best way to prevent STDs. The Department of Health is working with local public health agencies and community partners to help reduce the spread of STDs. Early detection and treatment are two ways of combating the rising rate of STDs. 

In Washington, federal and state funds provide $3.2 million per year for STD prevention, monitoring and control from 2017 to 2019.